5th Square Meet Up

Maria speaks to 5th Square community

October 13th, 2022

I came to council with the approach that I wanted to represent people, not special interests. I was very clear about who I represented.

The 7th Councilmanic District has historically been marginalized communities, a lot of disinvestment, and a lot of resilient people with a lot of potential.

The work we’ve done over the last 14  years has been impactful to the entire city. It was shaped around what I know these communities needed, which was a vision of community and affordable housing and accessible housing. When I first got elected, 50% of the accessible housing needs were in the 7th District. 

I’m data driven. The Litter index… The Prime Index … Debt ratios…

This led me to create the OOPA program, an income-based payment plan. I introduced that into the City of Philadelphia. Tens of thousands of people are on that plan based on the data sets of what I saw in my district with people owing thousands and thousands in real estate taxes and not having a pathway to compliance.

This is all about – How do people have a pathway to predictability and stability, right? We moved from OOPA to TAP, and we created the TAP water affordability program that has been recognized not only in the United States but across the country. Between those two programs, if you’re someone who lives on very fixed income, you will not pay more than 30% of your income when you’re paying both things. And that’s significant because the most affordable housing is the one that you live in now. Right. And so, again, data and data driven analysis led to that.

And then, of course, land management was a big issue. I’m the founder of the Land Bank.

Just putting it out there, not happy with where we are. But again, there’s a lot of opportunity for us to grow the city more equitably. I’m running for office now because ultimately, as a City Council person, I hit the ceiling about how we better support and help vulnerable communities like the ones I serve, particularly like the one we see in Kensington. 

I’m the author of the Mixed Income Housing Bonus. We worked very hard on that and I know we made amendments. We have the most aggressive planning around our transit-oriented planning Councilmember Squilla and I. So all the TODs along the EL here in the neighborhood.

I’m a big proponent in mixed diverse — *diverse* mixed-income housing doesn’t happen by accident and even though I advocated for mandatory, we were not successful in that approach and it’s a conversation that we will have to go back to and I will strongly advocate as mayor.

I’m a big believer in public spaces. Every single recreation center in the 7th Councilmanic District has been touched.  Every single one of them. 

And before Rebuild, we were doing Pinto plans. Pinto car plans. My husband says, don’t say that. Nobody knows the Pinto anymore. But I will. Just to show you the drop off between a Pinto and a Cadillac plan and just want to acknowledge real quick, Yanitza Gonzalez was on my team to do that work.

And then we’ve done a lot of progressive legislation around worker rights, domestic workers, which Andre Del Valle did a lot of work on this. And then finally, we were doing public safety — I know everybody’s worried about public safety. Well, folks, that’s how the 7th Councilmanic District
lives every single day.

No one running for Mayor is either from North Philadelphia or has had to do the kind of comprehensive public safety strategy that we’ve had to do here in the 7th Councilmanic District.

Our work with captains around smart police teams, like using a bike patrol and all the other things that people talk about now? We’ve been doing that. We’re piloting a quality of life initiative in the 24th police district. 

Folks are going to talk about it like it’s new. We’ve been doing it.

Can we use more resources? Absolutely. 

What would I do differently as it relates to public safety?

CCTV. I was in London in June. Can’t even get in the cab without being recorded. Absolutely needs to push that.

Forensics in science. I was on the police oversight board. There is a great report that was written by the Justice Department under the Nutter administration that came in and spoke about the part of the mental reforms. 

We talked about training, de-escalation, all of the things that folks are talking about now that’s gathering dust somewhere. We don’t write that off because we know what happens when the federal government writes a report.

That’s money because you go back and say — Hey, remember Gold 150, can you fund it right?

We can come in on Day One and really tackle the police department, a professionalized H.R. unit, all of the things deployment strategies, all of the things that again, folks — it will be new to them. It’s not new to me. 

When something happens in the 26 Police District, when I call the captain, whether it’s Captain Rodriguez or anyone else, the first thing I ask her is, “How many men are you down?” Because I know that sometimes she may only have one car out there. That’s the stuff we don’t talk about publicly because of the deployment strategies of this administration.

I’m excited about the opportunities that exist. I am very committed to this election.